Saturday, June 28, 2008

And... Back To Middle School Again!

I don't actually expect anybody to make real sense of this to me. I know this sort of thing has been going on all over the country for years and years now, and as many people as have tried to get me to understand it have failed. Whether the failure rests on their ability or my lack of brain power is still unknown. 

The NYT published an article by Jennifer Steinhauer of the Phoenix Journal titled "Nice Spot to Eat After Golf, but Women Are Barred." Apparently, the Phoenix Country Club allows women membership, but you cannot eat in the "men's grill room" unless you are a... man. Being a woman, I suppose I should be up in arms about this, but I have to confess my initial reaction is: WHO CARES? 

The article starts out, "When the men of the Phoenix Country Club saw their feeding ways in peril, they did not tarry. Some sent nasty e-mail messages, hectored players on the fairway and, for good measure, urinated on a fellow club member's pecan tree." Oh, goodie!! Where can I sign up to eat with these people, too??

Some of these people are in their 70's! How can people in their 70's have lived so long without growing up? This is the sort of behavior I would expect out of middle schoolers, not grown adults. And I'm talking about the behavior on both sides of the aisle. If you are not wanting women in your little eating area, act like an adult about it and simply say, "No, I'm sorry, but I think not." And if you're a woman (or a man who wants women in your eating area), spend your money on a different private club!! Ah, but I guess you needed me (the rocket scientist) to spell that one out for you because it was pretty complicated.

How did this particular bad behavior begin? The Van Sitterts, who have been club members for 30 years, two years ago decided that they wanted to eat eggs together in the morning in the men's grill room. They appealed to the board to change its policies and were shot down. So... the couple filed a complaint with the civil rights division of the Arizona attorney general's office.

The attorney general's office agreed with the couple and issued an advisory legal opinion that the club needed to comply with the state's anti-discrimination laws. Get this: "The office's investigation, according to a copy of its findings, noted the inadequacy of the women's facility while listing the lopsided benefits of the men's: three high-definition televisions, a buffet and a bar, and gorgeous views of the course."

This just kills me. You pay over ten thousand dollars a year to belong to a private club. For thirty years. After all that time, you decide the club is not what you wanted because you cannot eat your eggs together THERE. So do you decide to save yourselves ten grand a year and stay home to eat your eggs? NO. You have nothing better to do with your time, apparently, than to get the attorney general's office to make the private club you chose to belong to change their facilities to suit your very recent and not long-standing desire for morning breakfast. 

I don't get it. All of these people need to grow up. Find a group of people you can get along with and enjoy your life!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Religious Tolerance

The New York Times had an article published June 24th, 2008 titled "Survey Shows U.S. Religious Tolerance." (Whew!! And here I thought we were all religious bigots!) Apparently, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life thought a survey necessary - and they came up with "nearly three-quarters" of Americans "say they believe that many faiths besides their own can lead to salvation." Really? I think this is funny.

It would be different if the majority said that they believe many faiths can lead to "fulfillment" or "contentment" or "happiness." But they didn't... they said "salvation." Which leads me to the question: salvation from what?

Supposedly, this report indicates a "broad trend toward tolerance and an ability among Americans to hold beliefs that might contradict the doctrines of their professed faiths." Well, okay. I suppose if you're a Catholic and you don't think you need to confess your sins to the priest, you might hold a belief that goes against the doctrine of your faith. But an "all paths lead to salvation" approach pretty much nullifies your faith, I would think. At some point, you're no longer subscribing to Christianity at all -- you're subscribing to a sort of quasi-faith, something that perhaps is simply a tradition in your life you wish to continue but has no real meaning. Sort of like Santa Claus at Christmas time.

According to the study, "70 percent of Americans affiliated with a religion or denomination said they agreed that 'many religions can lead to eternal life,' including majorities among Protestants and Catholics." Apparently 79 percent of the Catholics surveyed agreed with the statement and 57 percent of surveyed evangelicals agreed. Unfortunately, there are specific passages in the Bible which directly contradict this belief, such as "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father but through Me," spoken by Jesus.

More than 80 percent of Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, along with more than half of Muslims, apparently agreed with the statement as well. Never mind the Jewish Torah's claim of "One True God" (being Jehovah), the Buddhist's claim of no God (only higher self), and the Muslim Quaran's claim of Muhammed as the final prophet and the direct accusation that the Jews and the Christians messed up the message and the Quaran is finally getting it right.

Religious tolerance is, according to the NYT, not marked by the ability to allow other people their own beliefs and opinions... They gleefully include Michael Lindsay, assistant director of the Center on Race, Religion and Urban life at Rice University saying, "It's not that Americans don't believe in anything. It's that we believe in everything. We aren't religious purists or dogmatists."

According to the research, more than a quarter of American adults have left the faith of their childhood to either join another religion or make a move to no religion at all, with the greatest net gain being in the "no religion at all" category. Given the church's ability to make a mess of things, hurt people, and turn church into multi-million dollar businesses, I don't find this surprising at all.

According to the New York Times article, "The new report sheds light on the beliefs of the unaffiliated. Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, 70 percent of the unaffiliated said they believed in God, including one of every five people who identified themselves as atheist and more than half of those who identified as agnostic."

I guess we need to blur and confuse absolutely everything now, even atheism. If a person answers a survey saying that they both are an atheist and they believe in God, that doesn't show religious tolerance - that shows idiocy. Atheism is, by definition, a belief that there is no God.

Again, from the article: The most significant contradictory belief the survey reveals has to do with salvation. Previous surveys have shown that Americans think a majority of their countrymen and women will go to heaven, and that the circle is wide, embracing minorities like Jews, Muslims and atheists. But the Pew survey goes further, showing that such views are held by those within major branches of Christianity and minority faiths, too.

Scholars said such tolerance could stem in part from the greater diversity of American society: that there are more people of minority faiths or no faith and that “it is hard to hold a strongly sectarian view when you work together and your kids play soccer together,” Mr. Lindsay said.

Frankly, we can be indulgent all we want (and indulgence is different from tolerance) to faiths other than our own... but in the long run we really don't get to be the ones to decide. Given the text from the sacred writings of the various faiths, they are (for the most part) opposing one another drastically (with the exception of Judaism and Christianity being intertwined). Given that, it stands to reason that somebody is wrong. Logically, it's possible only for all faiths to be wrong - but not for all faiths to be right.

The survey also delved into whether or not a person's faith influences their decisions about cultural issues. Apparently, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed favor more government help for the poor even if it means going deeper into debt. Sixty-one percent say that stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost. Of course, no stating what that cost might be, which leads me to wonder if they happened to survey any thinking people or if they stuck strictly to mind-numbed robots.

A majority said the United States should pay more attention to problems at home than those abroad, but in the area of foreign policy, 6 of 10 said that diplomacy, not military strength, was the best way to ensure peace.

Truly, the American people, no matter their religion, have a great capacity for regurgitating what has been fed to them through the national media for years. We should be proud. Public education has certainly done it's job.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blah, Blah, Blah, and more Blah...

It's beginning to look like we'll have a plethora of people to choose from this November. Be they Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green... Barack Obama (although the Democrat convention has not yet taken place and Hillary is still hopeful that Barack may yet meet his maker and pave the way for her ascension to the throne), John McCain (although he does actually need to live long enough to see the election in order to actually have too many people vote for him - of course, knowing many Americans, he can probably pass away in October and still receive some votes from those folks not paying any attention), Bob Barr (still we're uncertain how many states will even let him on the ballot. All he will say is that they're currently working on being on the ballot in all fifty states), and Ralph Nader (the man who can't seem to get enough of this action every four years or so).

If we were voting strictly on the basis of who would make the best candidate for a great caricature, I think Bob Barr would be a shoo-in. He already looks just a little bit like a cartoon. If we were voting on the basis of tenacity, I'm thinkin' Nader would be the best candidate. I'm pretty sure he's the only person to be on the ballot in national elections...what is it - forty times now? If we were all suffering from massive insomnia, McCain would be our man. They'd just put him on TV right around bedtime and we'd all be snoozing before you know it. But if what we're looking for is the excitement of a rickety roller coaster ride?? Barack Obama - all the way. It's like getting on the ride and wondering, "Is this thing going to make it? Has anybody been on before? What are the twists and turns?? We just don't know!! How exciting!!

So, yes. A plethora of choices and still not a good option out there. It's kind of like going to a restaurant and having them offer you a choice of liver, pigs feet, pickled eggs, or some funky dish straight from China (still including the beak and feet on the bird). None of them will probably kill you (at least not immediately) but none look too attractive, either.

My husband has been arguing with me a lot recently about Bob Barr. I think he might be even be considered a fan of his. And not to say that Bob Barr is not a good man... or that he doesn't line up with me on the issues. For all I know, he may line up with me on almost everything. But I keep telling my husband that the man doesn't have a prayer in the world of actually getting in on a libertarian ticket. Now, he tells me that it's because people think that way that they won't vote for him, thus fulfilling the prophecy... and that the Republican party needs to be shown that they cannot turn on conservatives like they have and still keep their base. He's right -- but I think that an Obama administration might be overkill as punishment to the Republicans. I don't know...

Then I hear talk about Hillary supporters defecting to senator McCain because they're upset that Hillary isn't taking the Democrat nomination. The only thing that helps me hold out hope that this could be true is the fact that McCain is almost as liberal as Hillary. I've half wondered if he will ask her to be his running mate in order to sew up those votes. Sadly enough, an announcement of such would not surprise me much.

So here's my dilemma - and somebody help me with it if you will. I can vote for McCain and hold my nose shut tight the entire time. I really dislike the man, but if I'm stacking him up next to a Marxist like Obama, he's definitely the lesser of the two evils. I can vote for Bob Barr, but if I do this I have to live with the fact that I've wasted time, energy, and gasoline because I might as well have stayed home. Are there people out there who are considering voting libertarian who have never considered it before? If so, what makes you think about doing so?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unfiltered Rhetoric

I must admit - I'm becoming less and less of a Republican. Not less of a conservative -- but the Republicans are hardly conservative enough for me these days. I want freedom... less regulation... I believe in the antiquated idea of unfettered capitalism. I long for the days of personal responsibility and the lack of government bailouts and handouts. I tear up at historical movies when there is some great scene involving stampeding horses in a rush for land, wishing I could be a part of something so exciting.

So when a movie such as "I'm Voting Republican" is produced, I don't feel some great protective reaction on behalf of the Republican party. And, in a way, I am impressed that somebody managed to fit so much rhetoric into one three and a half minute film spot. The Democrat talking points are almost all in there... But I do long for the days of REAL debate. I tire quickly of commercialized politics, be it on either side. Commercials are made for people with a very short attention span. Politics shouldn't be debated the same way. The stakes are higher in national politics than whether you're going to buy Wheaties or Captain Crunch on your next visit to the grocery.

I would love to have an actual conversation regarding political and/or moral points of view. It's the best way for me to learn new things. When someone challenges my thinking, I love to dig in and do research and see how right they are... 

But I've noticed that people are often afraid to express their point of view... people are wary of identifying themselves with a particular stance and discussing it. There are some people who are completely clueless as to current events and are incapable of discussing -- and don't wish to change it... and there are people who are so passionate about their thoughts and beliefs that they are incapable of rationally discussing anything. I long for a happy medium where we can discuss things with each other and actually learn from one another in the process.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Same Sex Marriage

With the dawning of homosexual "marriage" in California, the NYT published an article on homosexual "marriage" in Massachusetts. It was actually very interesting...

Apparently, when marriage was legalized for homosexuals in Massachusetts, there was a rush to the altar... which has since died down considerably. Since its inception in 2004, over 10,500 same sex couples have married there. Over six thousand of those took place in the first six months. The pro-homo-marriage crowd gave some reasons for the drop off in rates... 1. initially, the numbers reflected a pent up demand for marriage, 2. marriage isn't for everybody, and 3. there are only so many gay people in Massachusetts.

One thing in the article that really cracked me up was Jacob Venter and Billy Boney, a gay couple that's having difficulty with the "marriage learning curve." 44 and 36 years old, one would think some of the things they're fighting over would just be non-issues... like "whether to adopt children or have their own." (???) Basic biology should be able to decide that one for them, wouldn't you think? But Jacob Venter complains, "Nothing turns out the way you imagine. There are no role models for gay marriage." Huh. I thought according to the P.R., gay marriage was supposed to be the same as heterosexual marriage because all you need is LOVE. 

Linda Bailey-Davies is 62 years old and she married her partner who is 67. Linda says she feels "totally different inside my skin" because of getting married. She now feels "legitimate in the world." I am just having such difficulty understanding why we are legitimizing sex between women and sex between men. I really don't get it. 

And then the NYT says:

While many couples want conventional marriages, some are drawing on a creative definition of family forged while living "outside mainstream society," said Joyce Kauffman, a family lawyer and gay activist. "They've incorporated whatever's outside the box into their marriage."

Eric Erbelding and his husband, Michael Peck, both 44, see each other only every other weekend because Mr. Peck works in Pittsburgh. So, Mr. Erbelding said, "Our rule is you can play around because, you know, you have to be practical."

Mr. Erbelding, a decorative painter in Boston, said: "I think men view sex very differently than women. Men are pigs, they know that each other are pigs, so they can operate accordingly. It doesn't  mean anything." 

Still, Mr. Erbelding said, most married couples he knows are "for the most part monogamous, but for maybe a casual three-way."


Somebody - please tell me how you can be "for the most part" monogamous. You either are or you aren't. Since monogamous means that you have only ONE sex partner, you can't possibly have casual three-ways and still say you're monogamous. That's ridiculous... but I suppose since marriage is being redefined, we might as well redefine monogamy, too. 

Mostly, from reading the article, I gathered that the NYT interviewed a pretty mixed up lot of folks. I'm sad for them. Being legally allowed to marry doesn't actually do anything to legitimize any action. It doesn't make it so that people (generally) are more accepting of a lifestyle. And it doesn't make them any happier than they were before. 

So... why the big push for homosexual marriage across the country?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Freedom of Speech

Not to be alarmist or anything, but the freedom of speech is under threat. In many countries of western civilization, it has all but evaporated - and there are those who argue that the United States needs to follow suit. 

I'm not one to categorize everything into free speech in order to make all things legal and acceptable (i.e., child pornography). But I do think that when one is speaking out -- even if what they're staying is completely stupid or inaccurate -- keeping that speech free and available is paramount to maintaining a free society. Without free speech, society lacks the give and take of healthy (and even not-so-healthy) debate. Without this debate, the public is largely disengaged from the system, leaving policy up to an elite few. 

Up front and center in the arguments against free speech are muslim groups. The are consistently fighting the right of others to criticize their religion or to point out inconsistencies and problems with it. A couple years ago, a canadian news magazine called "Maclean's" published an article that basically claimed Islam is destroying western society. According to the New York Times, "Two members of the Canadian Islamic Congress say the magazine... violated a provincial hate speech law by stirring up hatred against Muslims. They say the magazine should be forbidden from saying similar things, forced to publish a rebuttal and made to compensate Muslims for injuring their 'dignity, feelings and self-respect.'"

So a magazine publishes an article (written by Canadian author Mark Steyn) criticizing Islam for their intolerance of western ways (including free speech) and the Islamic Congress responds by trying to silence the magazine, completely proving the author's point. 

Canada, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India have all either signed international conventions banning hate speech or have written their own laws banning it. In Canada, Germany and France, it's a crime to deny the holocaust (one of those things that you can say here but everybody knows you're an idiot if you do). Both Israel and France disallow the sale of Nazi items. (I know that this is not illegal here -- there's a nasty trailer house not too far from where I live that hangs a swastika flag in their window!) Really, the fact that this is allowed here is quite helpful because it identifies the owner of the flag as the slime that he is. One need not even really get to know him first, which makes life much easier!

As Harvey A. Silverglate has said, "The world didn't suffer because too many people read 'Mein Kampf.' Sending Hitler on a speaking tour of the United States would have been quite a good idea." People would then have known what Hitler was really all about and would have been appalled by it. 

Of course, we have legal philosophers such as Jeremy Waldron who say things like, "It is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken when they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack."

Anthony Lewis, a liberal formal New York Times columnist, has called for a re-examination of the Supreme Court's insistence that there is only one justification for making incitement a criminal offense: the likelihood of imminent violence. According to an article published in the New York Times on June 12th, 2008 by Adam Liptak, "The imminence requirement sets a high hurdle. Mere advocacy of violence, terrorism or the overthrow of the government is not enough; the words must be meant to and be likely to produce violence or lawlessness right away. A fiery speech urging an angry mob to immediately assault a black man in its midst probably qualifies as incitement under the First Amendment. A magazine article - or any publication - intended to stir up racial hatred surely does not."

However, Justice Holmes said regarding the First Amendment, "The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market. I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death." I must say, I tend to agree. Otherwise, who is deciding what is loathsome? What I would say is horrendous speech and what a person such as Fidel Castro would have found unacceptable are going to be two completely different things. With laws against offensive speech, what you are and are not allowed to say changes with the tide and with the leaders of the time. 

Roger D. McConchie, the attorney representing Maclean's magazine, bemoaned the lack of justice in a system that condemns some speech as hate speech by saying, "Innocent intent is not a defense. Nor is truth. Nor is fair comment on true facts. Publication in the public interest and for the public benefit is not a defense. Opinion expressed in good faith is not a defense. Responsible journalism is not a defense."

Jason Gratl, a lawyer for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association compared Canadians to Americans by saying, "Canadians do not have a cast-iron stomach for offensive speech. We don't subscribe to a marketplace of ideas. Americans as a whole are more tough-minded and more prepared for verbal combat."

So we, in the United States, have freedom of speech. You can say what you want regardless of how it makes me feel. Whoopee!! But the thought police are out there, lurking... very interested in protecting the "feelings" of some, even to the point of squashing the truth in order to protect. 

I love my country. I love the freedoms we still retain. If free speech is lost, then all is lost. Because without the freedom of speech, we cannot maintain a rule of the people, by the people and for the people. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Puffed Up Peeps

"Whatever the military success, and progress that may have been made, the surge didn't accomplish its goal. And some of the success of the surge is that the goodwill of the Iranians - they decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities - the Iranians." - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

To say that Nancy Pelosi can be categorized as a "puffed up peep" is a colossal understatement. Back in March of 2007, Pelosi (along with Lantos, Waxman, Slaughter, Rahall, Hobson, and Ellison) went on a nine-day jaunt to the middle east to meet with parliaments and heads of state in various countries. On April 4th of 2007, Pelosi met with the Syrian president and discussed with him his support of "militant groups." This she did against the wishes of the current administration. 

Now she shows us how little she understands our enemies with her statement about "the goodwill of the Iranians." That the Iranians called off their dogs (to a certain extent, anyway) after the surge is NOT due to their "goodwill." 

 "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel." - Former President Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter has a prescription for peace in the middle east, and until the Jews are willing to accept it, I guess the arabs can keep blowing them up. Not to mention the fact that even if the arabs were to vocalize such a promise, only a complete fool and buffoon would believe it. 

Carter is the ultimate version of a puffed up peep. Consider the following:

As America was progressing towards the Gulf War, Carter wrote members of the U.N. Security Council urging them to thwart the first Bush administration.

Carter more recently made his own trek to the middle east where he paid his respects to Yasser Arafat and met with American enemies (fully embracing them - literally).

Carter believes that "the intifada exposed the injustice Palestinians suffered." Never mind the fact that after Israel left the West Bank, civilization left with them. 

Carter served as advisor and speechwriter for the PLO. On May 24, 1990, Carter drafted the strategy and wording for a generic speech Arafat was to deliver for Western ears... According to Carter, "The audience is not the Security Council, but the world community. The objective of the speech should be to secure maximum sympathy and support of other world leaders...  A good opening would be to outline key points of the Save the Children report... then ask: 'What would you do, if these were your children and grandchildren? As the Palestinian leader, I share the responsibility for them. Our response has been to urge peace talks, but the Israeli leaders have refused, and our children continue to suffer....' Then repeat: 'What would you do, if these were your children and grandchildren?' ... This exact litany should be repeated with a few other personal examples."

Jimmy Carter on George W. Bush: "I don't think that George W. Bush has any particular commitment to preservation of the principles of human rights." And, when Bush identified and "axis of evil," Carter said this was "overly simplistic and counter-productive. I think it will take years before we can repair the damage done by that statement."

"Women have begun to see that if I go through that doorway, I take everybody through it." - Dianne Feinstein
"Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of Americans to feel safe." - Dianne Feinstein

This, of course, refers to the text in the U.S. Constitution "right to life, liberty, and the right to feel safe." FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!! Add to this the monumental stupidity of elevating the "right to feel safe" over the right to actually be safe... I think I'll find my own door, thank you very much.

In the interest of fairness to these less-than-beloved (by me, anyway), I should probably confess. Were I to be a person of as great significance as they, I would be in immediate danger of becoming a puffed up peep myself. I hope that I would be a bit smarter about it -- but once a person becomes significantly puffed up, it directly affects their ability to think clearly. The swelling of the head just overpowers the brain. So while I would certainly not err on the side of the left, I'm certain I would err all the same. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Matters of Religious Politics

Barack Obama has resigned his membership from his church of nearly twenty years. Isn't that interesting? His reasoning for the resignation is that he and his fellow parishioners can no longer worship in peace, with the press hounding them and scanning every sermon for questionable content. 

The Obamas plan to seek a new church home after the general election. Obama cited a "cultural, stylistic gap" between black and white churches - which he says will make it difficult for them to find a church. I suppose the real problem for them is finding a church they can agree with that the American people at large won't find to be completely offensive. 

Frankly, Barack Obama appears to attract offensive, hateful people. The friends I know about, Reverend Wright, William Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and Father Michael Pfleger, are all people who are well-known to be exceedingly radical. Reverend Wright? Well, we've all heard about his inflamed rhetoric by now. William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn are both unrepentant members/leaders of Weather Underground from the late 60s and early 70s. And Father Michael Pfleger is now on YouTube after preaching a controversial sermon at Obama's (now former) church. How anybody can listen to what comes out of the pulpit at that church and not view it as racist is beyond me. 

Pfleger says that white people owe black people reparations for what our ancestors did because we whites are still reaping the benefits associated with the "insurance policy" our ancestors created. Say wha-? He also accused Hillary of assuming the Democratic nomination belonged to her because of her skin color -- and accused her of being angry that some black man is coming and trying to steal what's rightfully hers. What hilarity. Of course, Obama distanced himself from Pfleger's preaching - expressing disappointment at his "divisive, backward-looking rhetoric." But it stands to reason that this sort of divisive, backward-looking rhetoric has been spewing from that pulpit for a very long time, or the people of the church would be appalled by it rather than visibly euphoric.

The New York Times ended an article on this topic by saying, "Now that Mr. Obama has addressed his ties to the church and pastor in a long speech and fully broken with both, it is not clear what else he can say or do to ameliorate the continued concerns of some voters about those associations." Damage control is everything -- how can Obama make us forget what we have found out about his belief system? What can he say or do to change our minds about his associations? Knowing most people, he won't have to do much. Many people will be willing to swallow whatever he says next... Politics is politics. People are forgetful, unless consistently reminded. And the MSM will not be interested in reminding people about Barack Obama's negatives during the general election. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Police vs. Parents - where do we draw the line?

Such an ugly topic... and yet so necessary. We have state-run agencies that are in charge of investigating charges of misdeeds towards children - both abuse and neglect. This is as it should be. There certainly needs to be a system in place for the protection of the powerless, and children are definitely powerless. One needs only to read the daily news to know the horrendous things of which humankind is capable. 

The question is, though, where is the appropriate place to draw the line? At what point do we say, "Hey. That's completely twisted. You just can't do that." Who gets to decide? 

I have finally found a news story in which I am holding back on having a firm opinion. The more than 460 children who were seized by the state authorities in Texas have been ordered home and began the process of returning to their families on Monday. 

Why no firm opinion, you ask? Well, it's a good question. I am, after all, one of the most opinionated people I know! I had no problem whatsoever in forming opinions about the strangeness of the women as they were being filmed in their puffed sleeve dresses and funky hairdos. I must confess, I watched them on television and thought, "There's something very wrong with those women. I don't think they're quite right upstairs." But does the fact that they're weird mean that they're not fit to raise their own children? Probably not. 

I don't think they're probably raising their children in what I would call the healthiest of environments. I don't even think that too many people would debate me on that. But the state doesn't take children away from families simply because they're not healthy families. A traditional family structure is not required by state law for a child to remain in the home. 

I know that there were allegations of sexual abuse, but from what I've read there wasn't any clear finding of any. The investigation continues even as the children are reunited with their families... the judge ordered a "lengthy list of caveats pending the conclusion of the investigation, including surprise home visits by caseworkers, possible psychiatric evaluations of the children and a ban on travel outside Texas." 

A group of girls had sewn themselves navy blue dresses to celebrate their reunion. Some of the youngest children cried at being separated from the workers at the shelter they were in. Toddlers, being pulled from the home they know, put in the care of others for a long period of time, then pulled from them back to the home they no longer know? Sad.

So don't get me wrong. I think the parents are definitely strange. I think that the children are being raised in an environment that is not good. But where do we draw the line and say that it's SO not good that the government can come along and take away the children? I certainly don't want someone to be able to decide I'm just too weird to raise MY own kids...  

The judge's final order requires every parent from this particular religious compound to take child-rearing classes. Does anybody really think this is going to help? I don't know... And it also says that any interference with the state's investigation would violate the order. 

Some of these parents are not going back to their "ranch" at all, opting to obtain a separate residence to convince the state that they're capable of putting the interests of the children first. These are not the actions of people who don't love their children. 

I must say, I don't understand any woman willing to sign up for a religion that allows her husband to have more than one wife. I would NEVER be willing to share my husband with another woman - to me, that's insanity. And I don't understand any woman being willing to constantly drape herself in black, face and all, in order to make sure she doesn't lose her honor, either. That's all goofy stuff and I wouldn't put up with it for a second. 

But I do subscribe to the idea that my husband is the head of my family. I do willingly place myself in his care and submit to him. I am raising my children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. I try to teach them good character. I encourage forgiveness seventy times seven. These are all things that another person might consider to be very weird. Dangerous, even. Stifling. Definitely not a healthy family. For this, I don't want them to take away my kids from me. So where do we draw the line -- and who should be the ones to draw it?